Have you ever felt a nagging sense of never being good enough, no matter how hard you try or how much you achieve? Or perhaps you know someone who always seems to be striving for an unattainable ideal, relentlessly driving themselves to exhaustion? If so, then you’re likely familiar with the concept of perfectionism. 

There is an intersection where perfectionism and anxiety meet. What’s interesting is that this connection isn’t always seen as a bad thing. In some cases, perfectionists view their drive for excellence as being beneficial. They see it as a tool that helps them get ahead in life and achieve success. But it’s important to be aware of how this pursuit of “perfection” can actually be detrimental both mentally and physically if it isn’t managed properly.

Defining Perfectionism

Perfectionism is not just about having high standards or being detail-oriented. It infiltrates your everyday life in subtle ways. Ways that you may not even be aware of. For instance, have you ever found yourself re-reading an email multiple times before sending it? All because you’re worried about any possible errors or misunderstandings? Or perhaps you’ve spent excessive amounts of time cleaning your house because you want it to be spotless for guests. These are examples of how perfectionism can manifest in our daily routines.

It’s also common for perfectionists to be overly critical of themselves and others. They also might struggle when it comes to completing tasks because they are continually striving to achieve perfection. They can also become easily frustrated when things don’t go exactly as planned. Perfectionists often find themselves procrastinating or avoiding certain tasks as a result of their need for everything to be “just right”. While striving for quality is admirable, it’s important to be aware of the potentially negative impacts perfectionism can have on your mental and physical health.

A woman struggling with perfectionism sits with her head down and her hands clenched behind her neck representing someone who could benefit from Therapy for Anxiety in Burbank, CA.

The Link Between Perfectionism and Anxiety

It may seem counterintuitive, but perfectionism is actually linked to higher levels of anxiety. Even research has shown that perfectionists tend to be more prone to anxiety-related disorders. There are even studies that have been published finding that individuals exhibiting traits of perfectionism were significantly more likely to also experience symptoms of anxiety disorders. This is likely because the constant striving for unattainable perfection can create a chronic state of worry and fear of failure. 

For instance, an individual with perfectionistic tendencies may find themselves feeling anxious because they are perpetually seeking approval. Not only from themselves but from others as well. This may be why they find themselves spending an excessive amount of time and energy trying to present the perfect version of themselves. This is where it becomes a slippery slope, as the pressure to be perfect can quickly escalate and lead to further anxiety.

They might also avoid taking risks because they’re afraid of not being good enough or making a mistake. 

Consider the story of Sarah. She is an accomplished pianist who struggles with perfectionism and anxiety. Despite her years of training and experience, she always finds herself feeling anxious before performing in public. She is often overly critical of her own performance and finds herself constantly worrying that the audience will think she isn’t good enough. As a result, Sarah has begun turning down performance opportunities and avoiding taking risks in her music. 

As a result, Sarah’s perfectionism and anxiety are intertwined in such a way that they can only be addressed by tackling both at the same time. Her desire to be perfect not only causes her anxiety, but her anxiety impairs her ability to reach the level of perfection she seeks. The fear of her making a mistake while playing, or not meeting the high expectations of her peers only further exacerbates her anxiety. It begins and fuels this cycle that can be difficult to break. 

How Perfectionism is a Precursor to Anxiety

Perfectionism can be the starting factor in developing an anxiety disorder. It lays the groundwork for a cycle that can be hard to break. You have sky-high standards for yourself and what you are capable of achieving. Those standards become increasingly more difficult to reach leading to feelings of worry, fear of failure, or even avoidance behaviors. The fear of failing to meet these standards can also lead to excessive worry and stress, which are key components of anxiety.

For example, you are an excellent student who is working hard on a paper for a class. You’ve set high standards for yourself when it comes to how well you should do on this paper. Leading you to spend countless hours working on it and editing it, until you feel like it’s perfect. Yet despite all your hard work, you still are anxious that the paper won’t be good enough when it comes time to turn in. This makes you fear each assignment, leading to increased anxiety each time you have to work on something new. 

This is a Classic Example of The Vicious Cycle of Perfectionism and Anxiety. 

The more you strive for perfection, the more anxious and worried you become. And the more anxious and worried you become, the harder it is to reach any level of “perfection”. It can be a difficult cycle to break out of without professional help from an Anxiety Therapist in Burbank, CA. Obtaining the understanding that perfection is not always attainable and making a conscious effort to focus on progress rather than perfection can help you break free from this cycle.

An individual sits in a dark room on the edge of their bed with their head down representing the need for Therapy for Anxiety in Burbank, CA.

Strategies to Break Free from Anxiety and Perfectionism

Finding ways to break free from anxiety and perfectionism is essential for achieving a healthy balance. The cycle can be hard to break but with some helpful tips and strategies, you can begin to reclaim a sense of control.

Embrace Imperfection

You are only human. Accepting that no human being is perfect and allowing yourself to make mistakes can help you break free from the cycle. Recognize that your imperfections are normal, and learn to accept them as part of who you are. It’s okay to not get everything right all the time. This can help ease your anxiety and the need to strive for perfection.

Set Realistic Expectations

One factor that exacerbates your anxiety and perfectionism is setting unrealistic goals or expectations for yourself. It can feed into the cycle of anxiety as these expectations become increasingly more difficult to reach. Take a step back, and set goals that challenge you, but are still achievable. Then celebrate the small victories and progress you make along the way. This will help to alleviate the pressure and anxiety. 

Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself, as you would to a good friend. Often, we’re our own worst critics. However, practicing self-compassion can help mitigate feelings of anxiety that arise from perfectionism. Recognize when you’re being too hard on yourself, and try to replace negative self-talk with positive, encouraging words. 

Seek Professional Help

If you find that perfectionism and anxiety are significantly affecting your quality of life, it may be helpful to seek advice from an anxiety therapist in Burbank, CA. They can provide strategies and techniques to help manage these feelings and break free from the cycle of perfectionism and anxiety.

Remember, it’s not about eliminating perfectionism entirely, but rather about finding a healthy balance. Life is not perfect, and neither are we. By embracing our imperfections and treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, we can reduce anxiety and live a healthier, happier life.

A man sits on the floor leaning against his bed trying to overcome perfectionism and anxiety in Burbank, CA.

Stop Perfectionism and Anxiety in Their Tracks With Anxiety Counseling in Burbank, CA

If you’re struggling with perfectionism and anxiety, you can break free from the cycle with professional help. A therapist specializing in anxiety counseling can provide you with personalized strategies and techniques to address these issues. With anxiety counseling in Burbank, CA you can learn how to set realistic goals and expectations, practice self-compassion, and gain a better understanding of your thoughts and behaviors. At Interior Design Firm, our therapists work with individuals who are struggling with various forms of anxiety and perfectionism. We understand that this can be a difficult journey to take on alone, which is why we are here to offer support and guidance. Let’s get started today:

Other Mental Health Services Available at Interior Design Firm

In addition to Therapy for Anxiety, we also offer other services to a wide range of individuals at any stage of life. These include Adult Therapy, Therapy for Teens and Parents, and Couples Counseling. All of our services are also offered in an Online Therapy Format for ease of access and enhanced privacy as well. Please reach out today. We look forward to hearing from you!